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Archive for December, 2009

As I’ve gotten older I’ve thought about that phrase above and how it has changed over time from when I took it literally as the 4th Commandment and assumed it meant absolute obedience to anything my parents would have expected from me. Like many things, as I got older, I realized that the phrase itself is just the beginning of the depth behind it.

My mother-in-law, Eva, was a sweet gentle spirit with twinkling blue eyes. She loved to read and work crossword puzzles till advanced macular degeneration took away that pleasure. She substituted books on tape till her dementia made it hard for her to remember how to work the tape machine and left her confused sometimes thinking that her vision had gotten bad that morning rather than years before. She always knew, however, when I entered her room and always had a kind word for me and an inquiry about how my job search was going. I’m thinking about her this New Year’s Eve remembering that my little family of husband Bob, daughter Kim, son Kirt, and daughter-in-law Britt were with her when she left us around 3:30 PM, December 31, 2008.

In pausing to reflect on the last months of her life, though others would disagree, my husband honored her when the doctors recommended that she move to a nursing home because the care she needed was more than could be given at home, her safety and well- primary concerns. It was a tough adjustment as being anywhere new was uncomfortable for her because of her sight. In the 18 months she was there, she won the hearts of the staff with her quiet demeanor, appreciation of anything anyone did for her, and her wry wit which would always catch folks off guard because she so rarely spoke.

During her last month, she would repeatedly ask my husband how old she was and he would gently reply that she had recently turned 92 and her sister in Texas was 100. She would quietly respond that 92 was too old and that she didn’t want to live to be 100. She was making her wishes known to us in her own way as she confirmed that desire by eating less and less. Others encouraged my husband to arrange for a feeding tube and do whatever was necessary to keep her alive. My husband would calmly reply that this was her wish and he respected her decision — honoring his mother by understanding that this was the last thing in her life she had any control over.

Christmas Eve came, and we realized that we needed to share a family tradition with Eva one last time. Of all the traditions we have for Christmas, reading The Night Before Christmas is one of the strongest. Bob’s dad had started the tradition when he was a young child with a copy that had fuzzy Santa suits and stockings just meant for rubbing. Bob continued the tradition each Christmas Eve with our kids, even now that they are adults. We shared a tradition that encompassed more than the reading of a secular story, a tradition that for us means family, love, caring, memories, and more, a way to connect our past, our present and our future and honoring all that has been. We read each page in turn, sometimes choking back our tears. And when we took her hand to rub the fuzzies, we knew that she was aware of what was happening. We were struck with all this moment meant for each of us as Bob read the final words, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” We were given the gift of Christmas at that moment and knew that we were honoring her in a most special way.

As mentioned above, she passed away a few days later and the acts of love and caring (dare I say, honoring?) continued in a variety of ways. As we were gathering our things in preparation to leave Evas’s room, I said that I was going to go home and make pasta with meat sauce, a definite comfort food for me. My daughter-in-law replied that she would take care of that and I should go home with my husband – honoring, this time a mother-in-law.

No one wanted to be anyplace else than with each other that evening, so after dinner we gathered in my daughter’s apartment upstairs from ours and watched a silly movie — honoring my husband and me with their presence then and throughout the following days.

My son and daughter helped me write both the obituary and the eulogy I would deliver – showing honor not only to their grandmother but me as well.

There are many more examples I could site as I am sure you can too from your own stories. But I think what I have discerned from my remembering today is that honoring is simply another word for love.

May 2010 be full of joy and love for you and yours.

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Wonderland – New York at Christmas time is just that and as beautiful in 2009 as I remember as a kid living in Manhattan and making the annual trip to mid-town to view the decorated windows starting with Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue near Central Park South (59th Street) passing Best and Company, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, and B. Altman’s on the way to Macy’s on 34th and Broadway. The windows were full of whimsical displays, and we would stand behind the cordoned areas and ooh and ah with the others, often while eating roasted chestnuts. A highlight of the usually very cold walk would be making the right turn at Rockefeller Center to see the magnificent tree.

This year was no exception. Though some of the stores are no longer there, the tree at 30 Rock (which to me will always be the RCA Building) is now adorned with LED lights that are spectacular. My traveling companions and I witnessed a marriage proposal occurring on the ice at the rink below. Romance is alive and well in the Big Apple.

The store closest to our hotel was Bergdorf’s which had chosen Lewis Carroll’s writings as its theme. It’s too many years for me to remember whether the scenes were from Alice or Looking Glass. That doesn’t matter because they were typically Victorian in their detail and over-the-top style. One in particular caught my eye because everything from the pink flamingo to Alice’s clothing was made out of paper. I was especially intrigued by the old manual typewriter set in such a way that it appeared to have created all of the items in the story. I chuckled to myself having taken my first keyboarding course on one not looking very different from the one in the window.

Little did that young girl walking down Fifth Avenue with her mom and grandmother know that years later she would be doing the same thing with her daughter and daughter-in-law the night before being on national TV for the second time in nine months.

Bright colored lights, opulent store windows, sidewalks crowded with shoppers and tourists, I was in the visual Wonderland called Manhattan at Christmas time and enjoyed every bit of it.

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Where shall I start? The bus ride was over, the taxi had taken us to our hotel, we were up early for a 6:15 limo call and arrived at the CBS News Early Show studio just a few minutes later, all to get ready for The Job Squad followup.

Once at the studio, Jack, Kelsy and I met, chatted and were primped for the interview. That’s a photo of me looking in the mirror while my hair is being fixed. Funny thing about mirrors is that while they may be accurate in the detail they present, everything is reversed; so are they really reflecting truth. But there’s more about that in a moment.

The on-air interview itself took about five minutes and included footage from each of our videos from March and one question – “Who has a job?” Jack could answer in the affirmative, having started a nursing magazine with the help of some backers; and Kelsy works for Clear Channel. My answer was not so apparent. While I had a job at that moment, it was part-time and lasted one more week. I found myself raising my hand only part way with a “sort of” look on my face.

So, by Job Squad standards was I a success or a failure where my position was only part-time and temporary at that? That begs the question: What is success?

Merriam-Webster defines success as a degree or measure of succeeding or a favorable or desired outcome. It is also the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.

Well, I guess I have had some favor or eminence being on national TV twice and being on the front page of or having an article about me in local papers about six times (including an article that should be published December 27). Attaining wealth – that’s another story – I can’t say that’s happened. But the definition also includes “a favorable or desired outcome.”

Hmmm – success or failure?

To borrow my metaphor above – which is the “real” Diana – the person that I cannot see and is viewable only by others, or is it the image in the looking glass? If the mirror is all scratched or is otherwise prevented from reflecting a sharp image, am I somehow dulled in the process?

Were The Job Squad participants only successful if we were able to obtain full-time employment as a result of resume makeover, career coaching, and new interview suit? If so, then I guess I am a failure.

However, if success is measured by learning about yourself and doing and experiencing, then the fact that I have continually moved forward to try new things and not only stand on my strengths but also work to improve my weaknesses, then success has been mine.

If finding new ways to help others while using what was gleaned from the assessments given months ago by Kit Harrington, I have been successful.

I may not have achieved the desired outcome of a full-time, well-paying job; but because of my media exposure I have become acquainted with people whose paths would never have crossed mine.

Nor would there be a group of folks meeting every week to support and empower each other. Much, if not all of this would not have happened if that survey from Gene Burnard of Workforce50.com had not landed in my in-box nearly a year ago.

My plate may be empty in many ways, but my cup runs over with blessings and joy. I’ll take that as success any day.

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I’m sitting on the Bolt Bus on my way to New York City for my interview on CBS News The Early Show (December 10, 2009, between 7 and 9 AM EST). It’ll be an early limo pickup (6:15 AM) and an even earlier getting up time after not getting to NY till around 10 PM tonight. With three of the four members of The Job Squad on air together, I’m sure it will be most interesting. I wonder what impact this will have on my on-going job search.

When I was on CBS last March just a couple of days after my birthday and nine months into being unemployed, I mentioned that I felt a rebirth was imminent as I thought landing a job was going to happen very soon. Here we are nine months since that interview and I continue to hope that a new opportunity is coming. This trip being close to Christmas and the New Year reinforces my hopes and dreams.

While The Job Squad – Rewired to Get Rehired follow up is the purpose of my trip, I’m am staying over another night with two very special women in my life to enjoy New York all dressed up for Christmas. We will be going to a Peter Mayer Stars and Promises Christmas concert as well.

Peter (who is also Jimmy Buffet’s lead guitarist and a family friend) writes wonderful music with strong messages. (I have shared some in other blog entries.) Two of his Christmas songs are pertinent to this posting and my life in general, especially during this period. Never did I imagine I would spend a second Christmas without an on-going job.

The first song is about Joseph from the Christmas story, the character we know the least about. He didn’t know what the plan was, but God assured him his presence was integral. He had to “keep walking to Bethlehem.” It was his obedience that allowed for the fulfillment of the promises made in the Old Testament portion of the Bible.

On a cold dark night a man and his wife to be
Walked a wilderness road
With a donkey, supplies, and a woman with child
Don’t you know it’s a heavy load

Joseph a good man of carpenter’s trade
Had made plans to make Mary his mate
Then an angel appeared and said Joe don’t you fear
But the spirit will dance with your date
The spirit will dance with your date

Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan

They came to the city of David that night
But no inn had a place for their keep
Mary said Joseph I think it’s my time
Said Joseph Oh Lord Why me
Said Joseph Oh Lord Why me

So they arrived at the last inn in sight
With no room but a stable so low
And Mary gave birth to the savior of earth
With the faith of her good husband Joe

On the freeways and byways, in village and town
On this 21st century road
We’ve traveled so far but still look for the star
Don’t you know it’s a heavy load

Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you’re part of the plan

“Hey Joseph” by Peter Mayer

In some ways, 18 months of unemployment does feel like captivity or a long hard journey. Sometimes I think that a job offer using my skills and abilities is never going to happen.

It is at just those moments that both Peter’s lyrics and the words from Jeremiah written during Israel’s 70 years of captivity offer comfort: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

My job is to seek, ask, and find, and to worry only about today. That is my “walking to Bethlehem.” I seek through my meditation and my job search; I ask in my prayers and my networking; and I find: No, not an on-going job as yet. Rather, I find by assuming leadership roles at my church, supportive roles in my community, teaching when the opportunity presents itself, and by facilitating Seacoast Peers for Careers.

Seacoast Peers for Careers is not a paid gig, but it is a very important of my life. Although the skills I am using are not unique, they are delivered through my characteristics, personality and style.

In this culture where individuals are not honored and so much is done to tear people down rather than build people up, Peter’s words remind me that all I do and say and am does matter. My walking does matter, and yours does too. Don’t ever forget that.

Think about your own uniqueness, your gifts and graces, and the people who are around you while you read the words below.

It’s Christmas time again
New Year’s ’round the bend
There must be something more than give and take
What it’s all about turns you inside out
‘Till you finally see the difference you make

This Christmas this Christmas
There’s a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to….

Love is in short supply
Such an obvious demand
Shouldn’t be so hard to understand
We hang the lights for hope look for the stars to follow
Peace on earth for what it’s worth is in our hands

This Christmas this Christmas
There’s a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to….

Start with the best of you
Followed by the rest of you
The things you say and the things you do
This Christmas

This Christmas this Christmas
There’s a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to….

Lend a heart, lend a hand
Make a start, understand
Lend an hour lend a day
Wrap yourself to give away

“This Christmas” by Peter Mayer

During this busy time of the year when the focus is on commercialism, don’t get caught thinking you don’t have anything worth giving or sharing. Focus instead on the intent of Christmas and make it a daily endeavor now and into the New Year.

Wrap yourself to give away”

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